Daniel Ashkenazy, a California college student, died in January after taking the addictive painkiller OxyContin and then drinking alcohol, says USA Today. Daniel, 20, had a 3.8 grade-point average his junior year. His mother, Pamela, believes that “kids who are high achievers are the kids who are at risk.” Researchers believe that many who misuse narcotic pain relievers such as OxyContin or Vicodin, or stimulants such as Ritalin, do so partly to ease stress or to improve academic performance.
Nationwide surveys by the University of Michigan and others indicate that the abuse of prescription drugs among young adults and teens is increasing, while the abuse of drugs such as cocaine and heroin is decreasing. The studies have said that about 6.7 million people ages 12-25 took a prescription drug for non-medical purposes during the previous year. Among illicit drugs, only marijuana had more users in that age group, about 12.8 million. Yesterday, the Society for Prevention Research presented analyses and original research based on such data collected during the past three years. Sean Esteban McCabe of the Substance Abuse Research Center at the University of Michigan said an examination of drug use among college students found that “competitive” universities – those with high academic standards – reported higher rates of illicit use of prescription drugs.